A sample of Italy's stringent construction standards is being hammered together in D'Iberville. Italian engineers say the model home they're building on Popp's Ferry Road should easily be able to withstand 140 mile per hour winds.
Alexander Holzmann came up with the idea. He speaks Italian to his partner. He speaks English to everybody else at his D'Iberville construction site. About 18 months ago, Holzmann's company heard about a housing need in Katrina ravaged Mississippi. And he had a possible solution.
"Our goal when we wanted create this house was to create a very stable, very hurricane resistant structure," he said as crews drilled bolt holes into the house's frame.
This project is the culmination of Holzmann's journey from Italy to D'Iberville.
Many of the wooden materials for the D'Iberville model home were shipped from his homeland. When Dan Wasilenko helped unpack the crates, he questioned the need for so much wood.
"Right, I was just overwhelmed by the massive structures that we were unloading when it came in," Wasilenko said.
The Italians quickly convinced the local contractor that it's the thickness of the laminated beams, and the one inch plywood that make this home more wind resistant, and ultimately more affordable.
"As the puzzle goes together you see the method to the madness, so to speak. It works," Wasilenko admitted. "This is as hurricane proof as you're going to get."
The Italian project leader thinks his design will meet the area's affordable housing need. City leaders are optimistic.
"Well built, stressed skin construction. First class," was how D'Iberville building official Hank Rogers described the work site.
"I hope from an economic standpoint that it proves feasible because it's a fast way of erecting a structure, it's a well built structure, and it will put people in homes very quickly, if it's affordable," Rogers said.
The Popp's Ferry Road model opens in early October.